How to Tell CBD Flower from Weed

Published June 30, 2021
How to Tell CBD Flower from Weed - Secret Nature

You might have noticed there are a lot of similarities between CBD-rich hemp and the intoxicating drug sometimes referred to as “weed.” In the process of white-washing CBD, an artificial divide between hemp and cannabis has been created. Scientists and stoners both know, though, that they’re one and the same plant.

We’ve known for centuries that cannabis is especially responsive to selective breeding. Nowadays, it’s possible to breed cannabis with high concentrations of either THC, CBD, or CBG, and more members of the cannabinoid family are on their way.

If you’re starting to think this is all a little bit confusing, you’re not wrong. Hang tight, though, and we’ll teach you how to tell the difference between CBD hemp and THC weed.

What is weed?

The word “weed” is sometimes used as a somewhat pejorative term for THC rich forms of the Cannabis sativa plant. Not quite as slanderous as “marijuana,” “weed” nonetheless has connotations that associate cannabis with black-market culture and illegal drug consumption.

What is CBD flower?

“CBD flower” is the term the industry has largely adopted to refer to Cannabis sativa that has been bred to be high in CBD while containing less than 0.3% THC. While cannabis containing more than 0.3% THC is still considered to be an illegal drug at the federal level, cannabis containing less than this THC cutoff is considered to be industrial hemp, an unscheduled substance.

What’s the difference?

There are two primary categories of difference between CBD-rich hemp and THC-rich cannabis:

— Effects —

Cannabis with THC will get you high, but cannabis with CBD will not. As with any intoxicating substance, THC use also has a propensity to become habitual while CBD has been researched for its ability to prevent addiction.

— Regulation —

THC remains a tightly regulated substance at the federal level, and the situation regarding CBD is entirely different. The 2018 Farm Bill makes express provisions to protect hemp commerce in the United States, but it fails to establish regulatory guidelines by which the FDA and other relevant organizations must abide.

As a result, CBD remains unjustly imprisoned in a legal gray area while nearly half the states in the union stand starkly opposed to the express position of the federal government on the subject of THC. A situation like this can’t stay the same forever, and it’s clear the momentum of history is on the side of cannabis and hemp.

Why law enforcement might want to know the difference

While this might all seem silly in 2030, right now, there’s a big and important difference between hemp and cannabis even if they smell and look exactly the same. At this present moment, the United States federal government is still in the business of policing which natural, plant-based substances you can and cannot allow to enter your body, potentially exposing you to legal turmoil if you’re unable to satisfactorily prove your hemp flower is indeed hemp and not cannabis.

In states where the use of cannabis is still tightly restricted, it’s entirely possible a law-enforcement officer could question you about hemp in your possession. There are established procedures to determine your guilt or innocence, and it’s best to be apprised of the general situation before any complications arise.

Why you might want to know the difference

You should always know what is going into your body. If you are using cannabis as a healing substance, your convalescence could be rudely interrupted by accidentally using one cannabinoid when you meant to use another.

Not all purveyors of cannabis products are equally trustworthy. While the word of a budtender in a ritzy downtown LA dispensary is essentially as good as gold, you have no idea if those loose buds in a big jar on the counter of a Mississippi gas station are actually CBD or not.

How to tell CBD flower from weed — 4 simple steps

Now that you understand the playing field, let’s start the game. By the end of these four steps, you will have determined whether your bud contains CBD or THC — one way or the other.

1. Look at the packaging

Let’s start with the basics. Did you remember to look at the package? Products containing THC are usually bedecked with triangular, pot-leaf warning labels while CBD products are not. It’s also far more likely for THC products to be child-proofed, and the labeling on either product type should answer the mystery instantly.

2. Contact the manufacturer

If you still can’t figure it out, get in touch with the people who made the product in the first place. Even if you just remember the brand name, you can look it up on Google to find their website. A customer service agent should be able to clear up the matter without much trouble.

3. Take a puff

There are some reasons you might be prohibited from taste-testing your mystery cannabis, but most of us shouldn’t have any issue putting the matter to rest with a good, old-fashioned smoke-out. Stick your flower in a pipe or a joint, light it on fire, and inhale. Do you feel high? Either way, you have your answer.

4. Order a lab test

This last step might seem like overkill, and to be honest with you, it could be. Cannabis lab tests don’t cost as much as they used to, though, and in the end, there’s only one way to be sure which cannabinoid your nugs contain aside from putting them to the “taste test.”

Weed vs. CBD flower FAQ

Any more questions about telling the difference between cannabis that will get you high and cannabis that won’t?

1. Does CBD flower look like weed?

Yes, CBD-rich hemp flower and THC-rich cannabis (weed) look exactly alike. That’s because they’re the same plant — Cannabis sativa — just with different dominant cannabinoids.

Some strains of cannabis are bred to be high in CBD while others might be high in THC or CBG. The range of cannabinoids present in Cannabis sativa is growing all the time.

2. How do you tell the difference between hemp and weed?

There are only two ways:

  1. Using it
  2. Commissioning a lab test

You’ll know pretty quickly after smoking it whether the sticky-icky you just inhaled was rich in CBD or THC. If it becomes a legal matter, lab tests may be ordered to establish either your guilt or innocence.

3. What’s the difference between CBD weed and normal weed?

One gets you high while the other does not. Otherwise, CBD-rich hemp flower (or “CBD weed”) is indistinguishable from the intoxicating form of cannabis usually referred to as “weed.” They’re both Cannabis sativa, after all, so the taste, smell, and appearance are the same.

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